Pediatrician, coroner take stand in faith-healing trial - KPTV - FOX 12

Pediatrician, coroner take stand in faith-healing trial

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Jurors heard from a pediatrician and a medical examiner Monday in an Oregon City faith-healing case.

Dale and Shannon Hickman, who believe in faith healing, are accused of manslaughter in the death of their premature son, David.

Monday's first witness was pediatrician Dr. Joseph Kaempf, who answered questions about the baby's chance of survival.

He says David would have easily survived had he been given medical care.

"For a mother to not seek any prenatal care is exceedingly unusual," Kaempf said.

Kaempf specializes in the care of newborn infants, especially those who are sick or premature. He says having a premature baby at home is extremely risky.

"I would never recommend a home birth for an infant at 31, 32 weeks," he said. "None of my colleagues would recommend that. No physician that I have ever worked with would recommend that. No article or textbook that I have ever read would recommend that."

Kaempf testified that if the Hickmans had gotten medical help even after the birth, David would have had a 99 percent chance of survival.

"One-thousand-seventy-one infants in the past 12 years at St. Vincent's were born at 31 and 32 weeks. There wasn't a single death from respiratory distress syndrome or hyaline membrane disease, which was the cause of death in this infant," he said.

Later in the day, medical examiner Dr. Clifford Nelson was sworn in and asked questions about the child's autopsy.

"The palm of my hand is as big as his head, easily," Nelson said of the boy's size.

He confirmed the boy died from pneumonia, complicated by underdeveloped lungs and an infection.

"If it was me making the decision, I would have been very concerned and would have gotten medical care," Dr. Nelson said.

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